Have you ever been physically trapped somewhere? Suffer from claustrophobia? Afraid of heights? Have depth perception issues?
If you raised your hand during any of these questions, you might want to skip a trip to The Monument London, which is built in recognition of the Great Fire of London 1666.
The Monument is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. It was built in 1677 and is located at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill. This is approximately 200 feet from where the Great Fire of 1666 started.
There it is. The Monument London. What you see is what you get. I wish I had thought about this.
It’s quite simple really. Straight up and straight down. Maybe I figured there would be an elevator? Or maybe I just didn’t think because I was on a quest to hit an attraction trifecta that day?
When I published Where to Get High in London: The 5 Best Views, many people recommended including The Monument London. I hadn’t written about it because I had not been there.
Sadly, I still can’t include it because the experience of visiting is a terrifying blur to me.
This is my near tragic story…
I received a London Pass to use at my discretion and decided it would be most efficient to combine several London attractions together in a one day itinerary. The order I visited them is:
– The Tower of London (coming soon on the blog)
– The Tower Bridge Exhibition (How to Take the Best Picture of London at Tower Bridge)
– The Monument London
It was a hot, sunny day and I had already spent three hours at the Tower of London and more time at the Tower Bridge Exhibition. I had been carrying a handbag, camera, two phones and a tripod on my shoulders. I was pretty tired before going to The Monument, so I pounded a quick latte at Costa and headed to the attraction.
I pounced up to the entrance, hoping they wouldn’t have an issue with my tripod, as I had read that they don’t let you in with large bags. They swiped my London Pass, and I quickly asked, ‘How long to the top?’
‘You’re fit. About 4 minutes,’ said the friendly man at the door.
Little did he know.
I hit the spiral staircase and started to the top. After about 30 steps, an angry queue began forming behind me. I suffer from depth perception issues and never go up or down stairs without at least one hand on a railing. European steps are narrow. The combination of all this in one giant rod straight up in to the sky was slow and nearly lethal.
Since I had just had a latte caffeine, my heart was really pounding. There was no way to turn around. Soon I started realising that I would have to come back down. Terror overcame me. The confined space didn’t help.
The spiral is so tight that it’s very difficult when people descend against you. I insisted on putting both hands on hand railing, so I even further infuriated other guests.
I asked every single person descending how many stairs were left for me, as I swirled and twirled upward.
When I finally made it to the top, I damn near had a heart attack.
It’s a small ledge where tons of people try to pack in to take pictures of the view. At least, that’s how I remember it.
I had planned on getting some air at the top and preparing for the descent. Being greeted with a simpled fence separating me from 202 feet below didn’t bode well. My panic attack continued.
I couldn’t even think straight to take pictures.
Feeling my heart pace increase even more, I knew there was no way out of this one. I spent about two minutes trying to take deep breaths and poking my camera through some fence holes to have something to show for the experience. There’s no video. I couldn’t stand still long enough.
The descent was worse for me. Not being able to judge distance on the steps, trying to calm my pounding heart and fearing tightly closed spaces almost killed me. In the dizzying swirl down 311 steps, I thought I would either slip on a step or an angry tourist in the queue behind me would cause my demise.
When I finally hit the bottom, I ran as fast as I could. Well, not that far. Luckily, this pub is just feet away from the entrance/exit.
I wish I had seen this before I entered. A nice stiff shot of booze may have helped prior to my journey. I think they should name this place 666, to somewhat honour the year the fire took place. And other cheeky reasons, of course.
Disclaimer: This blog feature is in no way meant to disrespect the great history of London or the people who work at the attraction. It’s my own stupid fault for not thinking through the experience prior to attempting to visit.
I wrote the post as an honest review to let people know that if they suffer from any of the above mentioned ‘conditions’ it may just be best to take a virtual tour of The Monument. I feel bad about ruining the experience for other people that day but couldn’t help it.
However, if you visit the Incident section of The Monument website, you’ll see it has quite a history of people experiencing tragedy there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Sunny friends.
Oh, and I did receive this certificate for surviving the experience. In some ways I am more proud of it than my two Master of Science degrees. 😉
Be sure to stay tuned to the Sunny YouTube channel for the Day on the London Pass Adventure!
I would love your thoughts on the view from The Monument London. What did I miss during my panic attack? Have you ever got on a ride or went to an attraction and realised it too late that it wasn’t for you?